The Ledbury is an occasion restaurant; he decided my 2-week homecoming was an occasion. I was excited.
The dining room was elegant but intimate, a relaxed ambience without losing its finesse and poise. There was no a la carte option in the Christmas and New Year’s period, only a 8 or 10 course tasting menu; he was keen to go with 10 courses. We opted for a bottle from my favourite Saint-Emilion region, Château Giraudels de Milon, and the sommelier said why change from something you already know you like. True that. There were nibbles and amuse bouche; the small brittle balls that exploded with a warm savoury, gamey mousse were particularly delicious.
Candy Beetroot Baked in Clay, Caviar Salt, Smoked and Dried Eel
The thin sheets of beetroot were masking a small pile of eel, plump and bouncy, packed with powerful smokiness. The earthy sweetness from the beetroot helped to dilute pungent tones from the smoked fish without taking away its delicacy. This small ensemble of complex flavours, ever so carefully balanced, did well to awaken our palates.
Artichokes Violet and Chinese, Muscat Grapes, Walnuts and Grated Foie Gras
The small blocs of artichokes were juicy with a hint of nuttiness, which worked well with the toasted walnuts and syrupy blobs of grape. The highlight was the crumble of foie gras blanket, which melted in mouth to a velvety foie gras cream that brought each component together. It reminded me of the posh cousin of Wardolf salad.
Warm Bantam’s Egg Celeriac, Dried Ham, Arbois and Wiltshire Truffle
I could smell the truffle making its way to our table. The soft poached egg was wrapped like a parcel in thin sheet of celeriac, holding the wobbly egg white in. I felt the truffles were somewhat less aggressive; while its perfume penetrated it didn’t dominate to knock all other flavours out, instead it lingered in a more refined manner. It’s a sure-win combination of silky soft egg, sprinkles of fragrant ham and generous shavings of truffle.
Roasted Cauliflower Lobster Butter, Basil and Parmesan
This was one of my favourite courses. The slightly charred cauliflower floret was mildly smoky, and its distinctive flavour worked magic with the luscious lobster butter, which was a concentration of shellfish bliss. The springy morsels of lobster casually scattered on the plate was just an added bonus.
Agen Prune Earl Grey Tea and Bacon
I say I don’t eat prune, the same way that I say I don’t eat dates and figs. Truth is, I don’t really know what prunes taste like and I’d eat it if I didn’t know it was there. So I told myself there were no real prunes in this dish.
I’m glad we had this with the 10 courses – I was convinced it was only in the shape of a prune. The fruit was filled with a dense partridge mousse that resembled an airy, smooth pate, its richness was offset by a mushy sweetness (from the prune I assume). The raw slivers of fungi were crunchy to add more bite, soaking up the tea-infused jus; although the earl grey fragrance was probably too subtle to push through. Perhaps I do eat prunes after all.
Belted Galloway Pardaihan Turnip, Smoked Bone Marrow and Padron
This was simply gorgeous. The filet was a perfect medium rare with a deep ruby centre; the lean muscle was of marshmallow softness and boasts refined bovine goodness. The small disc of bone marrow added some beefy butter to the meat, with a hint of smokiness that gave extra depth with the slight bitter undertone from the peppery puree.
Citrus Kaffir Lime Ice Cream, Bergamot Curd and Passion Fruit
I thought the warm donut on the side stole the show.
Brown Sugar Tart Stem Ginger Ice Cream
This reminded me of the traditional Cantonese milk pudding made by pouring milk against ginger juice - then it miraculously sets. I think it was the ginger.
The Ledbury certainly lives up to its 2-Michelin stars. The menu was sophisticated and balanced, with a healthy dose of innovation that experiments with a vast range of ingredients and textures; each course was well designed and flawlessly executed. I suppose after a few months in Singapore, I've learnt to appreciate the variety in ingredients much more in London. Service was impeccable, our server was most charming - conversational without being intrusive; courses were well-timed despite us being slower than most. Possibly one of the the best meals I have had. Ever.
It was a perfect finish to a beautiful year.
Thank you for making me feel special.
127 Ledbury Road
Tel: 0207 792 9090